Elementary closes after-school program | VailDaily.com

Elementary closes after-school program

Scott N. Miller

Bret Hartman/Vail DailyEight-year-old Emanuel Craig swings Monday on the playground at Avon Elementary with friends Will Allen,5, back left, Kaden Dustin, 6, back middle, and Logan Mendonca, 10, during an after school program in Avon.

EAGLE-VAIL – Leah Mayer is scrambling.Mayer, the mother of a kindergartner at Meadow Mountain Elementary School, was expecting to use the school’s after-school program for her son at least a few days a week. But that program was suspended Sept. 1 and is now in limbo, because school administrators can’t find anyone to run it.For now, Mayer and her husband have juggled their schedules a few days a week. They’re also sharing child care with a couple of neighbors. But it’s a lot of juggling.”It’s good we live in a community where we can do this,” she said.So what happened? Part is lack of kids, and part, it seems, is the difficulty of finding a person qualified enough to run a licensed after-school program who can work on a very part-time basis.”The hours it’s available, 2:30 to 6 p.m., doesn’t fit into a normal schedule,” said Ron Moreno, who ran the after-school program at Meadow Mountain for a couple of weeks.Moreno runs the Vail Valley Adventure Camp in the summer, and works at Vail Valley Medical Center in the winter. He ran the after-school program during a break between his summer and winter jobs.

Having run kids’ programs for several years in schools, for Avon’s recreation department and on his own, Moreno knows first-hand how hard it can be to keep a program active.Part of the problem at Meadow Mountain was the number of kids involved.”We had between one and eight kids a day when I was there,” he said. Part of the change is due to some school boundary changes that began this school year. Some kids who went to Meadow Mountain last year are now at Avon.”But it wasn’t really about how many kids we had,” Meadow Mountain Principal Kathy Cummings said. “This is a part-time job with no benefits and odd hours. People need a state license, and need a good deal of education.”In trying to set up a program for this year, Cummings said she called local recreation districts and day-care centers. No one could help. She then tried to find a way to send Meadow Mountain kids to programs at Avon or Edwards, but the cost of transportation was a deal-killer, especially with only a few families interested in the program.”If someone comes forward we’ll certainly start it again,” Cummings said. “I know people have to make money to live here, and a lot of people can’t get off at 3 p.m. It’s been a very frustrating time. We want to have answers and support for parents.”

Staff Writer Scott N. Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 613, or smiller@vaildaily.com.Vail Daily, Vail Colorado